HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The 4th District Congressional Democratic Candidate, Mark Gladney responded to Libertarian, Ric McCluskey's allegations of incumbent Congressman Steven Palazzo going AWOL during his time with the National Guard.
Gladney held a press conference Monday in Hattiesburg and said, “Very simple for him to fix, come forward with your 201 file, come forward with your records, lay it out for the voters to see, and explain how, a Sgt. an E-5, who is stationed in Poplarville, drills in Jackson when he lives in the coast at Joint Forces Command"
He continued, "I was a retired Lt. Colonel, I am not quite sure, what a Sgt. an E-5 would be doing, at Jackson at a Joint Forces Command, I think that is suspect, come out full disclosure and talk about how its done.”
McCluskey said that Congressman Palazzo has not been truthful about his service. McCluskey said, "If I'm lying, I want congressman Palazzo to file a lawsuit against me and my campaign immediately."
"And I know he will not do that for this reason, that's when those records will be public. That's when an investigation will start" said McCluskey.
During a press conference held by McCluskey last week in Biloxi, Palazzo's former Staff Sergeant Rolan Wade said he has never seen Congressman Palazzo at any of the drills.
Wade said, "During my time, I would like to say it was my honor to serve with congressman Palazzo, but I can't say that, I've never seem him."
Wade continued, "I can only say that he was on the company roster and that every time his name was called, it was a running joke. You would hear laughs, 'no show Palazzo' and 'AWOL' coming from the back of the formations" said Wade.
Earlier last week Gladney told FOX 23 News, “And to be perfectly honest, from some of those things that I have seen with him, not showing up to meet constituents, doesn’t come to town hall meetings, doesn’t actually get out and meet voters, I think this is similar type of behavior."
Gladney told FOX 23 News if the allegations are true, there needs to be a proper investigation by the National Guard.
He said, "I think that we all need to be fair, I think these accusations are pretty serious, I think we should be doing the proper investigation to do this.”
Congressman Palazzo's office released a statement:
Congressman Palazzo completed the majority of his drill requirements at Camp Shelby and also drilled at JFH in Jackson. He has not drilled at the Poplarville unit.
State Representative David Baria told FOX 23 news during a phone interview last Thursday, that he filed an inquiry with the MS National Guard Inspector General regarding the allegations.